Continuing the countdown of the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, let’s break down the 16th best player in defensive end Vic Beasley.
To read about the methodology in how these rankings came about, you can click here.
Total Score: 60/100
Last year’s rank: N/A
Player Grade: 54/100
Teams he is starter: 13 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 3 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 32 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +5
Positional Bonus: +4
After hiring new head coach Dan Quinn, the Falcons made a bold decision to invest a high draft pick in a young pass-rusher for the first time in eight years. That decision also echoed one made seven years ago, when the team use the first selection under Mike Smith to select quarterback Matt Ryan.
Quinn and the Falcons are hopeful that Beasley provides the anchor and foundation of a revamped defense much in the same way that Ryan did for the offense.
In Beasley, the Falcons find themselves with an explosive young edge-rusher that will be expected to fill in immediately at the “LEO” position in Quinn’s defense. There, Beasley will be asked to attack upfield and get after the quarterback. In that role, the team is optimistic that he can prove as if not more productive than LEOs that Quinn coached in Seattle such as Chris Clemons, who collected 11 sacks in first season with the Seahawks, where Quinn served as his position coach.
Beasley should fit well in that role since he was at his best during his days at Clemson when he was able to pin his ears back and get after the passer. That resulted in 25 sacks collected over the past two seasons.
The one glaring weakness to Beasley’s game is whether or not he can hold up against the run, especially as an every-down defensive end. At 246 pounds, Beasley is giving up roughly 70 pounds to the average NFL offensive tackle. If Beasley cannot hold up there, then the Falcons might tinker with the notion of moving him to outside linebacker, the position that he is listed as on the team’s official roster.
In that capacity, Beasley will play a role more akin to what Bruce Irvin did under Quinn in Seattle, which was play as a linebacker in the base package before moving down to defensive end in sub-packages. If the Falcons opt for the latter role for Beasley, then it’s likely to come several years down the road given the presence of Brooks Reed currently has at that position.
Regardless of Beasley’s long-term fit, his value will be measured mostly by how much pressure he puts on the quarterback. If the Falcons ultimately are forced to hide him in run support, then that will be seen more than worth it if he can bring the heat on passing downs.
With his explosive first step, Beasley certainly should be an impact pass-rusher early in his career. But his future will only grow brighter as he gets stronger and develops a more refined array of pass-rushing moves.
If or rather when he does, the Falcons can feel confident that Beasley will become that foundation player on the defensive side of the ball over the next seven-plus years much in same way that Ryan has been their leader on offense for the past seven.